Karl Decker

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This article is about the German World War II commander. For the Austrian footballer, see Karl Decker (footballer).
Karl Decker
Karl Decker taken by anon in World War II.jpg
Karl Decker
Born (1897-11-30)30 November 1897
Borntin, district of Neustettin, Pomerania
Died 21 April 1945(1945-04-21) (aged 47)
Großbrunsrode, Braunschweig
Allegiance  German Empire (to 1918)
 Weimar Republic (to 1933)
 Nazi Germany (to 1945)
Service/branch Heer
Years of service 1914–45
Rank General der Panzertruppe
Commands held 5th Panzer Division
XXXIX Panzer Korps

World War I

World War II
Awards Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (posthumous)

Karl Gustav Adolf Decker (30 November 1897 – 21 April 1945) was a German panzer general, serving during World War II. Trapped in the Ruhr Pocket, Decker committed suicide on 21 April 1945. He was also a recipient of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords (German: Ritterkreuz des Eisernen Kreuzes mit Eichenlaub und Schwertern). The Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross and its higher grade Oak Leaves and Swords was awarded to recognise extreme battlefield bravery or successful military leadership.

Military career[edit]

Karl Decker was born on 30 November 1897 as son to an officer in Borntin in Pomerania. He joined the military service as a Fahnenjunker (cadet) with the replacement battalion of 54th Infantry Regiment on 3 August 1914.[1] In the beginning of World War I he initially served in that regiment as an Unteroffizier. He was promoted to an officer candidate for bravery before the enemy and also was awarded the Iron Cross (1914) 2nd Class. Decker was again promoted in 1915 to Leutnant and shortly afterwards received the Iron Cross 1st Class. He then served as Zugführer (platoon leader) of a machine gun unit after he was transferred to the Feldkriegsschule[clarification needed] of the German 8th Army in 1916. He then held the position of battalion adjutant. During 1918, he was assigned to the Infantry School in Döberitz as a weapons instructor.[2]

After the capitulation of the German Empire, Decker was accepted into the Reichswehr and served with the 29th Reserve Jäger Regiment, the 5th Jäger Regiment and the 6th cavalry Regiment. He was promoted to Oberleutnant and Hauptmann during these assignments. As a major, he was transferred to the staff of the 5th Cavalry Regiment together with Horst Niemack. Shortly afterwards, he was reassigned again, this time to the 38th Armoured Detachment in Mühlhausen. He later became the commanding officer of this unit.[2]

This unit was subordinated to the 2nd Panzer division during the Invasion of Poland and fought under the command of Decker near Kraków and the Jablonka Pass.

During the Battle of France, Decker commanded the I. Abteilung of the 3rd Panzer regiment in the 2nd Panzer division. This unit fought at the Maas, near Sedan, St. Quentin and Abbeville. Decker was awarded both clasps to the Iron Cross (1939) for his personal bravery and was also promoted to Oberstleutnant.

In Balkans Campaign, his regiment fought its way through Yugoslavia, northern Greece, occupied Athens and crossed the Corinth Canal. Karl Decker was always leading his unit from the front. He was awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross on 13 June 1941 for his personal bravery and for his success.

Karl Decker was put in command of 3rd Panzer regiment before Operation Barbarossa began. His regiment fought hard in the battles at Vyazma, Bryansk and near Moscow. Decker was promoted to Oberst on 1 February 1942. A few months later, he was transferred to the staff of the 9th Army. In April 1943, he again was ordered to the front as commander of the 5th Panzer division. Decker distinguished himself multiple times, for instance at Shisdra, in the relief of the cauldron of Kovel and at Operation Zitadelle and was promoted to Generalmajor on 1 December 1943. Decker also distinguished himself many times during the retreat of Army Group Centre. He became the 466th soldier to receive the Oak Leaves to the Knight's Cross on 4 May 1944 and promoted to Generalleutnant.

For his leadership capabilities, Decker was made commanding general of the XXXIX Panzer Corps that was attached to the 3rd Panzer Army. Decker was promoted to General der Panzertruppe on 1 January 1945.

After his unit was relocated to the Western Front, his corps fought the Americans at Uelzen and in the Alsace. Here the 5th Panzer Army was subordinated to Army Group B.

General der Panzertruppe Karl Decker committed suicide on 21 April 1945 after the total defeat and encirclement of the Army Group in the Ruhr Pocket in April. Decker was posthumously awarded the 149th Swords to the Knight's Cross on 26 April 1945.



  1. ^ The German Federal Archives hold no records for the presentation of the Swords. The Association of Knight's Cross Recipients (AKCR) assumes that the presentation fell into the timeframe 20 April 1945 to 29 April 1945. It is assumed that the nomination was approved on 26 April 1945.[13] Scherzer states that the assumption is based on a statement from Decker's widow. She claimed that she had been informed that her husband had received the award. The date and sequential number "149" were assigned by the AKCR.[14]



  1. ^ Wegmann 2004, p. 308.
  2. ^ a b Berger 1999, p. 52.
  3. ^ a b c d Thomas 1997, p. 110.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Wegmann 2004, p. 311.
  5. ^ Patzwall & Scherzer 2001, p. 80.
  6. ^ a b Scherzer 2007, p. 267.
  7. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 158.
  8. ^ Von Seemen 1976, p. 107.
  9. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 82.
  10. ^ Von Seemen 1976, p. 44.
  11. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, p. 48.
  12. ^ Von Seemen 1976, p. 20.
  13. ^ Fellgiebel 2000, pp. 49–50.
  14. ^ Scherzer 2007, p. 125.


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  • Fellgiebel, Walther-Peer (2000) [1986]. Die Träger des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939–1945 — Die Inhaber der höchsten Auszeichnung des Zweiten Weltkrieges aller Wehrmachtteile [The Bearers of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939–1945 — The Owners of the Highest Award of the Second World War of all Wehrmacht Branches] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Pallas. ISBN 978-3-7909-0284-6. 
  • Nipe, George M. (2011). Blood, Steel and Myth—The II. SS-Panzer-Korps and the road to Prochorowka, July 1943. Stamford, CT: RZM Publishing. ISBN 978-0-9748389-4-6. 
  • Patzwall, Klaus D.; Scherzer, Veit (2001). Das Deutsche Kreuz 1941 – 1945 Geschichte und Inhaber Band II [The German Cross 1941 – 1945 History and Recipients Volume 2] (in German). Norderstedt, Germany: Verlag Klaus D. Patzwall. ISBN 978-3-931533-45-8. 
  • Schaulen, Fritjof (2003). Eichenlaubträger 1940 – 1945 Zeitgeschichte in Farbe I Abraham – Huppertz [Oak Leaves Bearers 1940 – 1945 Contemporary History in Color I Abraham – Huppertz] (in German). Selent, Germany: Pour le Mérite. ISBN 978-3-932381-20-1. 
  • Scherzer, Veit (2007). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 Die Inhaber des Ritterkreuzes des Eisernen Kreuzes 1939 von Heer, Luftwaffe, Kriegsmarine, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm sowie mit Deutschland verbündeter Streitkräfte nach den Unterlagen des Bundesarchives [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 The Holders of the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross 1939 by Army, Air Force, Navy, Waffen-SS, Volkssturm and Allied Forces with Germany According to the Documents of the Federal Archives] (in German). Jena, Germany: Scherzers Miltaer-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-938845-17-2. 
  • Thomas, Franz (1997). Die Eichenlaubträger 1939–1945 Band 1: A–K [The Oak Leaves Bearers 1939–1945 Volume 1: A–K] (in German). Osnabrück, Germany: Biblio-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7648-2299-6. 
  • Von Seemen, Gerhard (1976). Die Ritterkreuzträger 1939–1945 : die Ritterkreuzträger sämtlicher Wehrmachtteile, Brillanten-, Schwerter- und Eichenlaubträger in der Reihenfolge der Verleihung : Anhang mit Verleihungsbestimmungen und weiteren Angaben [The Knight's Cross Bearers 1939–1945 : The Knight's Cross Bearers of All the Armed Services, Diamonds, Swords and Oak Leaves Bearers in the Order of Presentation: Appendix with Further Information and Presentation Requirements] (in German). Friedberg, Germany: Podzun-Verlag. ISBN 978-3-7909-0051-4. 
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  • Die Wehrmachtberichte 1939–1945 Band 3, 1. Januar 1944 bis 9. Mai 1945 [The Wehrmacht Reports 1939–1945 Volume 3, 1 January 1944 to 9 May 1945] (in German). München, Germany: Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag GmbH & Co. KG. 1985. ISBN 978-3-423-05944-2. 
Military offices
Preceded by
Generalleutnant Ernst Felix Fäckenstedt
Commander of 5. Panzer-Division
7 September 1943 – 16 October 1944
Succeeded by
Generalmajor Rolf Lippert
Preceded by
General der Panzertruppe Dietrich von Saucken
Commander of XXXIX. Panzer-Korps
15 October 1944 – 21 April 1945
Succeeded by
Generalleutnant Karl Arndt